Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Portmahomack Holiday Part 7 - Picts, Seals and Shells

 Sorry for all the holiday spam, I usually breeze through them all pretty quickly but my motivation has been somewhat lacking recently! There's only a couple more posts to go though!
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Being in such close proximity to the sea for a week made it incredibly difficult to say goodbye to Portmahomack.

We went for a final walk on the beach after breakfast and it actually ended up being one of our best beachcombing days ever - I'll do a post on all our holiday finds once I've got them all sorted out.

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Another tasty cake at the tearoom later, we drove just down the road to the Tarbat Discovery Centre - a brilliant little community run museum in an old converted church, which told the story of the local area throughout its long and very rich history.

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Outside it stood 'The Pictish Queen', a somewhat striking statue, donated in 1999 by HRW Murray 'in memory of his forebears who were heritors of this church for over 100 years'. It was sculpted by Leonie Gibbs.

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While I love the subject, I can't say I'm much of a fan. She's a bit too rough and ready for my taste.

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The actual museum itself was really interesting.


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There were a selection of genuine Pictish carvings, as well as some replicas and casts.

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These two were casts for taking crayon rubbings in the education suite upstairs. I was very good and resisted taking my own!

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This next one is genuine, and it wasn't even behind glass so you could get really close to it to see all the details.

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Down a set of frankly dangerous steps lay the crypt, where some of the carved stones on display were first found, built into the walls!

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I may have decided against taking some crayon rubbings, but I couldn't resist trying this on... :P


Finally we bid our final farewell to Portmahomack and left Easter Ross. We timed it well enough to stop off at Brodie for some lunch.

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Bacon, brie and cranberry...om nom nom
I spotted these (close to lifesize!) mare and foal in the toy section but didn't have the several thousand pounds handy to add them to my collection!

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The Highland cow was doubly tempting!

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Rather than going straight home at the end of the week, we'd decided in advance that we were going to stay with my aunt and uncle in Clochan for a few days, then call in to see my mum's cousins in Aberdeen on the way home.

While it's always great to see family, it's even greater to see their cats. :P
Miko is in his late teens now and while he's mellowed somewhat in his old age, he's still as grumpy and antisocial as ever, but we all love him anyway.

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I think he thought if he stared at the glass long enough he'd be allowed a taste, lol

Mum was surprised with a homemade (and ridiculously tasty) birthday cake courtesy of my aunt Doreen, and while I missed the candle extinguishing thanks to a delayed flash going off, I did at least manage to get at least one decent photo of it, albeit without the birthday girl in the frame. XD

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The next day we all went out for a wander. As I go up there for visits more than my parents do, I recognised all our usual haunts! Portgordon was usually somewhere we drove past as it was inevitably raining, but this time we'd struck lucky with the weather...and the locals.

Seals

Seals

While I've seen plenty of seals in the water before, I've never managed to get a good view of them on land...until now!

Seals

Seals

Rather unusually both Grey and Common seals were mingling together.

Seals

Seals



Seals are such ridiculous looking creatures - especially when on the move - but that somehow makes them doubly appealing!


Rather depressingly, one of the mottled ones had some fishing line caught around its neck and from the depth of the cut, it looked like it had grown up with it. :(

We did some beachcombing further down the road at Findochty, where I think we got Doreen hooked on seaglass!

Findochty

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Another place we usually visit when I'm up is Cullen - home of the famous Cullen Skink soup - but as with Portgordon, it's usually raining, so it's almost a tradition to get an ice cream, eat in the car and then head home! This meant that I'd never actually been to the beach there, and photographed 'The Kings'; a trio of rather dramatic sea stacks. The weather was kind this time however, so off we went!

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One side of this one was covered in foliage.

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Cullen

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It was a very pebbly beach, so there wasn't really much in terms of finds, however, I did spot one thing I absolutely couldn't leave without! 😂

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Clearly there's a story there! XD
Doreen wouldn't let me bring it into the house so it was banished to the car!

That night we sat up with the laptops and showed off our holiday photos, which eventually turned into a contest when Dad and I realised we'd taken almost the same photos from the same angles in a few cases. it got quite competitive, until this particular shot came up.


Dad had spotted the crab first and taken a shot, then, when I saw him hunkered down photographing something, I came over to see what the fuss was about and took my own version.

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The general consensus was that mine was the nicer of the two, but my uncle Malcolm had the deciding vote. He looked long and hard at both of them, before saying something along the lines of 'I like that one (mine) but there's just something about the figure in the distance in Richard's one...'
At this point Dad smiles smugly, like he's already won.
'...it really spoils it.'
The way my dad's face just deflated at that was honestly one of the funniest things I've ever seen, and we all ended up in stitches. Maybe you had to be there, but it was hilarious!

The second day was to be a visit to Spey Bay - home of the Scottish Dolphin Centre and yet another place I'd never actually seen dolphins at.

We stood on the windblown shingle for ages...

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...and as usual, saw bugger all!

Well, a couple of seals did turn up, but they hardly count!

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Spey Bay

Spey Bay

Spey Bay

I loved the way this wave curled around the edge of the mouth of the river Spey.

A post shared by Christine Sutcliffe (@lynkhart) on


Someone had made a little shelter type thing right at the edge of the bank!

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While Doreen and I looked at it, we heard my mum call on us from afar, and looked up to see her vigorously flapping her arms and pointing out to sea. We looked, but saw nothing. Later, she said that she, Malcolm and my dad had all seen what they thought was a dolphin, and dad had managed to film it on his camera, but the battery had died so he couldn't check to see. (when we finally did get to look at it, it looked more like a seal 'porpoising' than a dolphin, but it was still a pretty cool sighting!)

We just had to make do with these dolphins instead...

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Tea and cake were soon to follow, and then a quick wander around the car park. Spey Bay hosts the Tugnet Ice House, which was supposedly one of the largest of its type in Scotland. It's significantly bigger on the inside, as most of it is buried underground, but alas, there was a tour on when we walked by so we weren't able to see inside this visit.

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Spey Bay

Spey Bay

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Back at the house, I knew there was one local feature in particular I'd never been able to properly photograph.

Clochan

Just down the road there's a house with a particularly unique garden.

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Apparently work started on it in the year 2000 for the family's kids and wow, it must have taken FOREVER!

Clochan

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I can't even begin to imagine how many shells went into this.


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It isn't even just shells, there are lots of bits of broken plates and mugs too, as well as a whole host of toys and bits and pieces. It'll be a fantastic record of social history one day.

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This next one's my favourite though. XD

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I'm pretty sure this is something from Jurassic Park/The Lost World?

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The actual garden has several miniature buildings in it, decorated in the same style.

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On my way back I stopped by the swings and well, I just had to do what they told me to. :P

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On that note, this is nearly the end of these holiday posts, fear not! Only one more to go!


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